BOLTON Council chief Cllr Cliff Morris says new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg made "a big mistake" in telling a radio show he did not believe in God.

Mr Clegg answered "no" when asked the question in a rapid-fire BBC Radio 5 Live interview.

But Cllr Morris, a committed evangelical Christian, who is an Elder at the Hebren Christian Church in Mayor Street, said: "I think he has made a big mistake and I don't know why he has said it.

"He has put his heart on his sleeve and I disagree with him about his belief. He has then contradicted himself by saying that he is bringing his children up in the Catholic faith."

Cllr Morris said he believed his beliefs may have some influence in his day to day decisions.

He said: "I try and keep political decisions separate, but it is very difficult to divide the two, it must have some influence on the way you think and feel."

Conservative group leader, Cllr John Walsh, who attends Bolton Parish Church, also said his faith influenced his policies.

He said: "I seek guidance and give serious thought because the decisions I am taking can affect the lives of others.

"My belief gives me the grounds to question whether those decisions are the right decisions.

"Nick Clegg has been honest, but I happen to think he is wrong and I find it difficult to understand. I'm able to draw my judgements based on my belief, but if he has not got that I think he would find it immensely more difficult."

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Roger Hayes, praised Mr Clegg's honesty - then refused to admit whether he believed in God. He said he was a member of the Church of England, but not a regular churchgoer He said: "My private views are my private views. It's more important the type of life you live and the values you have and I subscribe very strongly to the values held by the Christian church.

"From what I know, Nick Clegg also has the right sort of values."

The Archdeacon of Bolton, Dr John Applegate, said: "It's good Nick Clegg has been honest because people can be hypocritical, but I think he's in the minority of the population.

"I would say he's missing out a tremendous lot in life if that dimension is missing.

"I think politicians should seek guidance from God, but it has to be based on a solid, growing relationship rather than just calling in God to support a decision."